The Alternative Press Expo was started in 1994 by Dan Vado in order to allow independent artists and small publishers to share their work without having to compete with large publishers and media for attention. Held in San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center since 2003, APE has helped thousands of cartoonists and other artists gain public exposure. It is no surprise that Portland’s independent comic book community had a strong presence at this year’s show. The Portland Comic Book Examiner traveled to the City By The Bay to talk to some of the Rose City’s finest.
Dylan Meconis, Erika Moen and Trixie Biltmore, members of Portland’s Periscope Studio, just happened to be assigned spaces next to each other, making their weekend like a day at the office, but with decidedly more company. Meconis, attending her fifth APE, was only enjoying her second visit with a full table. “I finally have enough stuff to cover an entire table,” she beamed. Meconis commented favorably on APE’s new layout, the show having expanded its footprint in the hall by 50%. Though at first unsure about the trio’s location assignment, by the first day she found sales of her books Bite Me! and Family Man to be “awesome.” The artist also revealed plans to join the Stumptown Comics Foundation board, assisting that group with its local functions.
Erika Moen, author of two volumes of the autobiographical DAR!, agreed that her location had brought “a lot of traffic,” though sales started off slower for her. A veteran of seven Expos, Moen judged APE to be a “good representative of con[vention] activity.” She is currently working on two separate books, one with Marvel writer Jeff Parker (X-Men: First Class, Thunderbolts), and a young adult fantasy with Brendan Adkins. Next month, Moen and Meconis will be attending the invitation-only New England Webcomics Weekend held in Easthampton MA. Moen will also be at Haverford College in Pennsylvania to speak at OutWeek.
Webcomic artist Trixie Biltmore (Meen Comics) was attending her first APE and enjoying herself. “It’s like Stumptown [Comics Fest], but larger,” she decided. Biltmore had samples of her comic available, and was giving them out to the numerous visitors to her table. Comments were positive in all cases but one: both Biltmore and Moen laughed as they remembered the convention guest who informed them that they were “not good feminists” for talking about their own bodies and using self-deprecating humor. Despite the experience, Biltmore plans to return to APE in 2011, perhaps with the anthology of Meen Comics she is working on assembling.
Also enjoying his first APE was artist Barry Deutsch, who was exhibiting his new book Hereville for the first time in public. The book, which Deutsch calls “yet another troll-fighting, 11-year-old orthodox Jewish girl,” does not reach stores until November 1st. Two years ago, Deutsch self-published a version of Hereville for Stumptown Comics Fest, and found attention from publishers. Hiring the agent of his table-mate Scott McCloud, he had a book deal with Abrams in two months’ time. Abrams has already signed Deutsch up to do two sequels. Hereville’s premiere will be November 4th at Powell’s on Hawthorne.
Former Pony Club and Tender Loving Empire member David Nuss attended with his new endeavor, Revival House Press. Nuss decided that after having been a participant in other groups, he “wanted to do something on [his] own.” The young company, which plans to exhibit at April’s Stumptown Comics Fest, offered their first release, the anthology Shitbeams On The Loose #2 as well as two titles debuting at the show, Trigger #2 and Everything Unseen.
In the next APE installment, the Portland Comic Books Examiner speaks with Shannon Wheeler, Cat Farris, and many more Portland artists.